Another union representing Hartlepool steel workers votes to strike

Tata Steel's plant in Brenda Road, Hartlepool.
Tata Steel's plant in Brenda Road, Hartlepool.

Members of another union representing Tata Steel workers have voted to go on strike.

Unite accused Tata Steel’s management of being on the verge of provoking the biggest crisis in the steel industry for a generation. Members of Community, the GMB and Ucatt have already voted in favour of strikes in protest at the closure of the final salary pension scheme.

We have offered Tata Steel the savings it says it needs. Instead, the company is hell-bent on making people who work in a physically demanding environment graft unnecessarily for a further five years to get their full pension.

Paul Reuter, Unite national officer

Union leaders will meet next week to decide their next move.

Unite national officer Paul Reuter said members made it clear that they “are not prepared to have their contracts with their futures torn up in front of their eyes”.

“We have offered Tata Steel the savings it says it needs. Instead, the company is hell-bent on making people who work in a physically demanding environment graft unnecessarily for a further five years to get their full pension.

“Tata Steel’s plans will financially penalise workers and rob them of their retirement they are working so hard for.

“We would urge Tata to reflect on the anger demonstrated by the ballot result and avoid the possibility of the first national industrial action in the industry for 30 years by entering into further meaningful talks.”

A Tata Steel spokesman said: “We have been trying to develop an affordable and sustainable pension scheme for employees, so today’s ballot result is very disappointing.

“Less than half of our workforce actually voted for strike action and less than half of Unite union’s members who were balloted voted for it. Indeed in several regions, union members voted against strike action. GMB members in the North East and North West regions voted against strike action, as did Community union’s members at our Firsteel site in the West Midlands.

“Everyone agrees that change is needed to resolve the challenges facing our pension scheme, which has a projected shortfall of more than £2 billion.”

He said the company had worked hard to find a fair and balanced way of overcoming these challenges.